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Bananas (Kela): Uses, Benefits, Side effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

“One banana a day can keep my endorphins awake”. A banana (Musa sp.) or Kela is an elongated, yellow fruit which is actually a berry. They belong to the Musaceae family and include varieties like Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana, etc. They evolved in the tropical regions of Southern Asia and are now cultivated worldwide. In India, they are the most cultivated crop after mangoes and are extensively produced in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Although raw bananas need to be cooked, ripe bananas are enjoyed as it is. It is a very popular food due to its high nutritional value and low price. There are enumerable health benefits of bananas; let us continue to explore this much-loved fruit.1  

I often suggest the use of bananas in maintaining skin health. Banana is a rich source of various vitamins and minerals like manganese that might help in improving collagen levels. Bananas might help with skin issues like wrinkles, dryness, and acne.


Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Nutritional Value of Bananas: 

Bananas (Kela) are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, along with various phytochemicals like anthocyanins, carotenoids, tryptophan and delphinidin. The nutritional components of bananas are mentioned in the table below.  

Nutritional components Value per 100 g 
Carbohydrates 22.84 g 
Sugars  12.23 g 
Dietary fibre 2.6 g 
Protein 1.09 g 
Fats 0.3 g 
Potassium 358.0 mg 
Magnesium  27.0 mg 
Phosphorus  22.0 mg 
Choline 9.8 mg 
Vitamin C 8.7 mg 
Calcium 5.0 mg 
Niacin 0.6 mg 
Sodium 1.00mg 
Folate 20.0 μg 
Vitamin A 3.0 μg 
Selenium 1.00 μg 

Table 1: Nutritional value of bananas2 

Based on my observations, banana contains many nutrients. Among them, banana is a rich source of vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in maintaining overall eye health. Some studies suggest that eating bananas might help in maintaining normal vision, protecting the eyes, and improving night vision.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Bananas: 

Scientifically proven properties of bananas include:3 

  • It may have the ability to manage diabetes by reducing elevated blood glucose. 
  • It may have antioxidant properties. 
  • It may have anti-microbial properties. 
  • It may provide relief in inflammation.  
  • It may help manage depression. 
  • It may have an anti-carcinogenic property. 

Potential Uses of Bananas for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of bananas are described in the paragraphs below: 

Potential uses of bananas in cancer  

Cancer is a hyper-proliferative disease, characterized by uncontrolled multiplication of body cells. Guha et al. conducted a study in 2003 to assess the effect of bananas on Swiss albino mice. This study showed that the administration of an aqueous extract of ripe bananas to the mice caused a reduction in cancer cells. Bananas are rich in polyphenols, cinnamic acid and flavonoids, that exhibit anti-cancer action. Therefore, consuming bananas may help reduce the risk of cancer. However, scientific evidence supporting this claim is limited, and this warrants the need for conducting further research.4 

Potential uses of bananas in diabetes 

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by increased glucose levels in the blood. Diets which are rich in carbohydrates and starch increase the risk of diabetes. Starch and carbohydrates are converted into glucose after breakdown by glucosidase enzymes. Bukola et al. conducted a study in 2016 proving that bananas inhibit alpha-glucosidase and thus, they can help reduce elevated blood glucose. Additionally, bananas have a low glycemic index and may exert an anti-diabetic effect. Thus, the consumption of bananas may help manage diabetes. However, more studies should be conducted to ascertain these claims.5 

Potential uses of bananas in depression  

Depression is associated with a feeling of worthlessness, mood changes and changes in appetite, which may affect normal health. Modifiable risk factors like dietary interventions may help in decreasing the prevalence of depression. Stefanska et al. conducted a study in 2014 to assess the effect of banana intake on depression; this study showed that bananas are rich in minerals like Mg (magnesium), K (potassium), Fe (iron) and Vitamin B, which may help alleviate depressive symptoms. Additionally, bananas contain tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin), which uplifts the mood. The presence of choline in bananas may help improve brain function. This suggests that consuming bananas may help manage depression. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited and requires the need for more clinical studies to support these claims.6 

Potential uses of bananas in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 

Literature shows that bananas are rich in phenols, which are known to exert a hepatoprotective effect. A study done in 2021 by Torres et al. showed that the consumption of bananas may help manage NAFLD due to the presence of phenols which improves liver antioxidant status and reduces the accumulation of body fat. This indicates that bananas may help reduce the risk of NAFLD, but we need more scientific evidence to support these claims.7 

Potential uses of bananas for blood pressure 

Bananas are rich in dietary fibre, magnesium and potassium, all of which may benefit blood pressure. The U.S. Nutrient data laboratory in 2011 stated that banana intake had a positive impact on blood pressure in East Asian consumers than non-consumers. Additionally, the presence of potassium in bananas may help in reducing fluid accumulation in the body (oedema) which also helps in reducing blood pressure. Therefore, bananas may help reduce elevated blood pressure. However, no scientific data is available for this. Thus, more research should be conducted to ascertain these claims.8,9 

Other potential uses of bananas: 

  • Bananas are rich in soluble and insoluble fibres, which may have a positive impact on digestion and can soften stools.9 
  • Bananas contain a prebiotic called fructo-oligosachharide, which enhances the absorption of calcium by the body and may improve bone health.9 
  • Due to a high iron and folate content, bananas may help manage anaemia.9 
  • Bananas are rich in antioxidants, lutein, Vitamin A and carotenoids which may help improve vision.9  
  • Many tribal communities have been using bananas for the treatment of tuberculosis, dysentery, cough and fever.4 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of bananas in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of mushroom on human health.  

How to Use Bananas? 

  • Bananas are used to prepare desserts like banana muffins, cakes, pancakes, etc. 
  • They can also be used to make processed foods like jam, jellies, ice creams, etc. 
  • Bananas can also be blended into smoothies and shakes.1 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

Side Effects of Bananas: 

A few side effects related to the consumption of bananas include: 

  • Priyanga et al. conducted a study in 2022 which showed that consuming bananas can sometimes result in banana allergy due to the presence of banana proteins which trigger an abnormal immune response.10 
  • Migraine is a common side effect of yellow coloured fruits due to the presence of tyramine which triggers headaches.11 
  • Due to its high sugar and carbohydrate content, bananas may cause tooth decay or cavities.11 

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to bananas, it is advised to discontinue its intake and immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Precautions to Take with Bananas: 

Eating bananas is okay if taken in moderate amounts. However, general precautions must be followed in the following conditions: 

  • When bananas are being given to babies, should be fully ripe and mashed, without any lumps for easy swallowing.  
  • If you ever experience any swelling, skin rash, or breathlessness after eating a banana, you may be allergic to them, it is advised to consult a doctor for proper advice.1 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Bananas (Kela) and blood pressure-lowering medicines can show a significant interaction due to the high content of potassium.  This interaction can result in: 

  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) 
  • Abnormality in kidney function. 

Therefore, you must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician about the possible interaction of bananas with other drugs and follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking.12 

Also Read: Tyramine Rich Foods: Understanding the Impact on Your Health

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are the benefits of eating bananas (Kela) for our vision? 

Bananas are rich in antioxidants, lutein, Vitamin A and carotenoids which may help improve vision. However, more studies are needed to support these claims. Therefore, it is advised to consult a doctor for proper treatment of any vision-related issue.9  

2) Is banana a berry? 

Yes, plant-based studies suggest bananas are berries. Like other berries, bananas have three distinct layers namely the outer skin, a mushy middle layer and an inner-most layer with seeds.1 

3) Can bananas help in managing anaemia?  

Yes, bananas are rich in iron and folate and may help manage anemia. However, more studies are needed to support these claims. Therefore, it is advised to consult a doctor for the proper treatment of anemia.9 

4) Is there any benefit of banana on our bone health? 

Yes, bananas contain a prebiotic known as fructo-oligosachharide, which enhances the absorption of calcium by the body and may improve bone health.9 

5) What are the side effects of excess banana consumption? 

Priyanga et al. conducted a study in 2022 which showed that consuming bananas can sometimes result in a banana allergy due to the presence of banana proteins which trigger an abnormal immune response. Other side effects may include migraine and dental erosion.11 

References: 

  1. Important banana varieties cultivated in different states of India are given below: (no date) BANANA. Available at:  shorturl.at/anzO9  (Accessed: December 8, 2022).  
  1. Bananas, nutrition facts and analysis. Available at: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Bananas%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html?size=100%2Bg (Accessed: December 8, 2022).  
  1. Sarma, Partha Pratim et al. “A pharmacological perspective of banana: implications relating to therapeutic benefits and molecular docking.” Food & function vol. 12,11 (2021): 4749-4767. doi:10.1039/d1fo00477h. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33960338/ 
  1. Mondal, Arijit et al. “Cancer Preventive and Therapeutic Potential of Banana and Its Bioactive Constituents: A Systematic, Comprehensive, and Mechanistic Review.” Frontiers in oncology vol. 11 697143. 7 Jul. 2021, doi:10.3389/fonc.2021.697143. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8294041/ 
  1. Adedayo, Bukola C et al. “Antioxidant and Antihyperglycemic Properties of Three Banana Cultivars (Musa spp.).” Scientifica vol. 2016 (2016): 8391398. doi:10.1155/2016/8391398. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5107234/ 
  1. Ji, Tong et al. “The association between banana consumption and the depressive symptoms in Chinese general adult population: A cross-sectional study.” Journal of affective disorders vol. 264 (2020): 1-6. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2019.12.008. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31846806/ 
  1. Quitete, Fernanda Torres et al. “Phenolic-rich smoothie consumption ameliorates non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in obesity mice by increasing antioxidant response.” Chemico-biological interactions vol. 336 (2021): 109369. doi:10.1016/j.cbi.2021.109369. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33422521/ 
  1. Oude Griep, Linda M et al. “Association of raw fruit and fruit juice consumption with blood pressure: the INTERMAP Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 97,5 (2013): 1083-91. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.046300. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628377/ 
  1. Parmar, R. (2022) 12 incredible health benefits of bananas, PharmEasy Blog. Available at: https://pharmeasy.in/blog/12-incredible-health-benefits-of-bananas/ (Accessed: December 8, 2022).  
  1. Suriyamoorthy, Priyanga et al. “Comprehensive Review on Banana Fruit Allergy: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, Management, and Potential Modification of Allergens through Food Processing.” Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands) vol. 77,2 (2022): 159-171. doi:10.1007/s11130-022-00976-1. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35661960/ 
  1. Johnson, O. (2022) Top 13 side effects of eating too many bananas, BetterMe Blog. Available at: https://betterme.world/articles/top-13-side-effects-of-eating-too-many-bananas/ (Accessed: December 8, 2022).  
  1. Colino, S. (2022) 7 foods that don’t mix with prescription drugs​, AARP. AARP. Available at: https://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-2022/food-medication-interaction/ (Accessed: December 8, 2022).  

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